03 January 2006

Assaults make taxi driving dangerous in capital

Irish Independent

TWO taxi drivers are assaulted in Dublin every day - making the work one one of the most dangerous in the capital writes Kathy Donaghy.

Knife attacks, strangulation attempts, blood-filled syringe threats and even assaults using pit bull terriers are not uncommon in the daily life of a cab driver, according to Vinnie Kearns, former vice president of the National Taxi Drivers' Union.

Mr Kearns, who has set up his own high-security taxi firm, told the Irish Independent that many drivers who had been the subject of an attack found they could not return to driving a cab.

However, it was his belief that 90pc of incidents are not reported by drivers as they don't want to make an issue of it, particularly if they have a wife and children.

He said that, while the vast majority of these incidents might not be very serious, when someone was attacked while going about their daily job it was still an ordeal.

According to Mr Kearns, the nature of attacks has changed in recent times and, while taxi drivers may once have been wary of picking up a group of young men at night, attacks now are more random and are sometimes carried out by women and couples.

He said that in one recent incident a taxi driver picked up a female passenger on O'Connell Street and brought her to the James's Street area. While the car was stopped, a pit bull terrier was flung into the cab and while the driver was trying to fight off the dog, his female passenger robbed him.

The taxi company boss said that in one case a single perpetrator was responsible for carrying out 12 attacks over five days in the Christchurch area. In another incident a driver was forced to drive to Dundrum with a blood-filled syringe held to his neck.

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